OAKDALE — Trent Merzon saw something that wasn’t quite right.
With just under four minutes to play and his Mustangs leading by a touchdown, the Oakdale head coach noticed something was awry the offensive formation that the Sierra Timberwolves had lined up in and called a last second time out.
Turned out he was on to something.
On the ensuing play Sierra quarterback Jake Pruitt connected with Lucas Widmer for what looked like a modest gain that would be well short of the first down that the Timberwolves needed to keep their drive – and their hopes for a victory – alive.
But just before being tackled, Widmer turned and pitched the ball to starting left tackle Aaron Thiel who was careering around the left end on a hook-and-lateral play that caught nearly everybody off guard.
Thiel came up a half-yard short of the first down marker, and Oakdale was able to grind out the remainder of the clock for a 24-17 come-from-behind homecoming victory.
“I’ve got to give credit to their defense – they slowed us down tonight,” Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison said. “They shut down our run and adjusted to what we did. I thought we had a good game plan, but they came back out and adapted.”
Sierra and Pruitt came out of the gate firing with short, crisp underneath passes that to a bevy of receivers. He completed his first five attempts – the fifth a perfectly-placed ball right into the waiting fingertips of Devin Nunez – and struck again minutes later when the same tandem hooked up for an early two-score Timberwolf lead that seemed to have Oakdale sliding.
But after going for it from the Oakdale 35-yard line and turning the ball over on downs, the Mustang offense, which sputtered at the start, started to find the polished traction that it’s known for. Brock Whiting put Oakdale on the board with a scamper from 15-yards out to cap off the ensuing drive and Lane Trapp nailed a 23-yard field goal to cut the lead down to four at the half.
Turnovers proved to be Sierra’s undoing.
The Mustangs were able to take the lead off of a Pruitt interception – Max Stevens legged it in from 12-yards the following play – and a reworked defensive game plan that eliminated any opportunity for the run while taking away Pruitt’s bread-and-butter underneath reads further derailed the Sierra offense.
“Their quarterback has the ability to just play catch with unbelievable accuracy and if you give him the space he’s going to complete it,” Oakdale head coach Trent Merzon said. “We came back out and tightened things up and tried to force them to make mistakes.”
Pruitt finished 26-of-36 with 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.
Whiting and Stevens both finished just shy of 100-yards apiece, and combined for Oakdale’s three offensive scores.